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Official purposes Edit

The Green Belt has five official purposes:

  • to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
  • to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  • to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Once Green Belts have been defined, the use of land in them has a positive role to play in fulfilling the following six objectives:

  • to provide opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population;
  • to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation near urban areas;
  • to retain attractive landscapes, and enhance landscapes, near to where people live;
  • to improve damaged and derelict land around towns;
  • to secure nature conservation interest; and
  • to retain land in agricultural, forestry and related uses.

2010 research findings Edit

30 million people live in or next to Green Belts which cover 13% of the land surface of England. Research published 2010 [1] indicates that Green Belts:

  • Have been effective in protecting the countryside from urban sprawl. The rate of development on the edge of towns and cities in Green Belts is at least one third lower than in comparable non-Green Belt areas (4);
  • Provide a valuable resource for people to exercise and enjoy peace and quiet, having 44% of England’s country parks, and on average 20% more public rights of way than the national average (5);
  • Maintain a large area of distinctive, rural landscape within easy access of our largest towns and cities - 95% of the public living in the Green Belt value these landscapes for their beauty and 58% of England’s population have visited the Green Belt for leisure in the 12 months;
  • Contain more than 260,000 hectares of high quality agricultural land (6) and have the potential to be an important source of locally-grown food (7);
  • Contain 33% of England’s local nature reserves and are of great importance in enabling people to connect with wildlife and the natural environment;
  • But the character of many Green Belt landscapes has continued to change in recent decades (8) and the Green Belt of the 21st century faces a number of challenges, including pressure from development and rising population.

Public rights of way Edit

Green Belts have 18 metres of public rights of way for every hectare of land, compared to the national average of 14 metres per hectare.

Local food UK Edit

A recent CPRE survey has confirmed that eight out of ten people living within the Green Belt would prefer to buy food produced there than elsewhere

Maintaining landscape quality Edit

According to analysis carried out as part of the Countryside Quality Counts project (conducted by Scottish Natural Heritage, the Countryside Council for Wales and agencies now forming part of Natural England), in 39% of the Green Belt area landscape quality is being ‘maintained’ or sustained, 37% ‘diverging’ (eroding or transforming to a new character) and 18% is being ‘neglected’ or eroded. The analysis covers the environmental condition of, amongst other things, historic features, trees and woodland, and rivers. In non-Green Belt areas 51% of landscape quality is classed as “maintained”; 29% as changing and 20% as neglected.

Land coverage Edit

Overall Green belt land coverage {hectares)
1997 2003 2004 2006*
England 1,652,300 1,671,400 1,678,200 1,631,800
Cambridgeshire 26,690 26,690 26,750 26,302
East Midlands 79,710 79,520 79,480 78,900
London / South East England / Bedfordshire / Essex / Hertfordshire 600,320 600,470 601,410 553,886
North East England 53,410 66,330 71,910 71,910
North West England 255,760 260,610 260,590 260,310
South West England 105,900 105,950 105,950 106,330
Yorkshire and the Humber 261,350 262,640 262,640 264,930
  • The above total for Green Belt in England in 2006 excludes the 47,300 ha of former Green Belt in the New Forest which was re-designated as National Park.

Source: DCLG Green Belt Statistics. Based on the latest figures available, i.e. the figures for 1997 coverage were revised in the 2003 Government statistical bulletin.

Losses of Green Belt land in 2006 Edit

Losses of Green Belt land in 2006 were registered in East Anglia (Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire), the East Midlands (Gedling, NE Derbyshire, Rushcliffe, S Derbyshire), London / wider South East (Broxbourne, Dartford, West Oxon), North West (Macclesfield, Sefton and Wigan); South West (South Gloucestershire, West Wilts), West Midlands (Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Stratford on Avon, Tamworth, Wychavon), Yorkshire and the Humber (Calderdale, City of York).

Related Wikipedia content Edit

  • Green belt (UK) W
  • Green belt W

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  1. Green Belts: a Greener Future, joint report produced by Natural England and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, January 2010

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